Cayetano wants to change people's 'hate for Congress'
MANILA, Philippines – Freshly minted Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano wants the public's negative perception of Congress to change now that he is leading the House of Representatives.
"We will do what is right, so that we will have a Congress that is relevant, responsive, and reliable. United and we commit to God, our people, the work of the 18th Congress," said the Taguig City-Pateros congressman in his first speech as Speaker on Monday, July 22. (READ: House votes as Duterte wished: Alan Peter Cayetano is new Speaker)
Cayetano overwhelmingly won the speakership race with 266 votes against the 28 votes of his lone opponent, Manila 6th District Representative Bienvenido Abante Jr, who is now expected to gun for the minority leadership.
In his speech, Cayetano lamented the people's distrust of Congress, rooted in the various corruption issues that have hounded congressmen and senators alike in the past years.
"People love their congressmen, but they love to hate Congress. This is something I ask all of you in unison: Let us change that, because this is the House of the People. We should respect and love our congressman, but we should also feel that the House of Representatives is the House of the People," said Cayetano.
Cayetano's candidacy had been challenged during the 2019 polls over residency issues, as he and his wife Taguig City 2nd District Representative Lani Cayetano claimed they lived in separate residences in their certificates of candidacy. The Commission on Elections already junked the complaint filed against Cayetano.
On Monday, the Speaker said he hopes he will become "worthy" of the trust given to him by lawmakers, whom he urged to pass all of President Rodrigo Duterte's pet bills.
"Sana po ako'y maging worthy at sana po ay tulungan 'nyo ako para sa loob ng 15 na buwan ay mapagsilbihan po natin ang ating mga kababayang mabuti. At lahat po ng nasa legislative agenda, ubusin na natin at ipasa na natin dahil mas magandang magawa na natin ito kaagad," said Cayetano.
(I hope I will become worthy and I hope you will help me so that within 15 months, we would be able to serve our countrymen well. Let us pass everything in the legislative agenda because it would be good if we accomplish this.)
He is set to serve as Speaker for the first 15 months of the 18th Congress, while Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco will take the helm in the 21 months after that. This is part of the term-sharing agreement the two lawmakers were able to forge with help from the President.
Out of all the Duterte allies who gunned for the speakership in the past weeks, Cayetano is believed to have the weakest support among legislators as he had failed to cultivate personal relationships with them before announcing his bid for Speaker.
But after getting Duterte's blessing, Cayetano started getting more support from legislators, especially from those who were out to secure key leadership positions in the House.
Cayetano was able to secure the votes for the post only on Monday morning, when presidential son and Davao City 1st District Representative Paolo Duterte said he and his sister, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, will "respect" their dad's decision on the speakership race.
Both the Duterte siblings are against any term-sharing arrangements in the House, and had even pushed for Davao City 3rd District Representative Isidro Ungab to be Speaker.
On Monday, Cayetano took his oath with Paolo Duterte standing behind him. Other legislators who stood behind Cayetano during his oath taking were his wife Lani, new Majority Leader and Leyte 1st District Representative Martin Romualdez, Velasco, and other party leaders in the House. – Rappler.com
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